Improving live video experiences

Some of you have noticed that CNN Live recently began offering users an option to view an enhanced live video experience for their Flash video streams. The experience is enhanced by using grid delivery technology, which promises to enable more efficient distribution of live video by allowing clients to receive a single live video broadcast from both streaming servers and other clients connected to the same live video stream. This is different from P2P communication where clients communicate amongst themselves without passing the data through the server. Grid delivery is intended to provide a scalable solution for live events that helps content providers reach larger audiences and maintain a high quality of service at a lower cost than many existing solutions. For users, this should mean faster start-up times and a smoother live video experience.

Live events are important to our customers, and grid delivery is one of the technologies we are exploring to improve live video delivery. As you know, we take great care in determining the features of Flash Player because once something is in, it is in forever. So we are piloting the technology with a few pilot sites and live events to see how it performs and measure its effect on video delivery efficiency and the end-user video experience. Note that initially not everyone that visits the pilot sites will be given the opportunity to view the grid delivery enhanced video, but those that do will be asked to install an Octoshape grid delivery add-in. The add-in is delivered by Adobe through Flash Player express install, but don’t take that to mean we’ve opened up the feature as a general purpose installation mechanism. We wanted to ensure that we got large enough samples for the trial and that users received the best user experience possible, so the add-in is delivered by Adobe through express install specifically for the pilot. CNN Live has done a nice job with the implementation so that users that decline to install the add-in will still be able to view the standard Flash video stream.

Being able to pilot a technology like this with a partner like CNN Live is a great opportunity. The pilot will allow us to measure the experience at a large scale and determine if we truly are improving live video delivery and the end user experience. If it is successful, we will be exploring how to bring the technology to the player for broader use. We’re interested in user feedback on the live video experience, so if you have the opportunity to try out the enhanced video on CNN Live, leave a comment and let us know how it worked for you.

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